How to grow your money – if you don’t have any

You might think just because you don’t make a lot of money, you can’t grow your money. These tips will dispel that myth.

Invest more in your 401K

The nice thing about this is that your job will do this for you. You can just ask them to put a higher percentage of your paycheck into your 401K each month, and you won’t even feel the burn. You don’t need to make the decision every month to do so. It will be automatic. Plus, some companies match what you contribute, which can really make a difference.

Ask for a raise

Is it perhaps time to ask for a raise? We don’t just get that automatic three percent increase a year to keep up with the increasing cost of living the way our parents and their parents did. You have to ask for it. Maybe you’re at a place where it’s time, and you deserve it. Just make sure you do it correctly.

Then don’t change your spending habits

Once you get that raise, don’t change your spending habits at all (except perhaps to spend less, which we’ll get to later). But do not increase spending when your income increases. That defeats the purpose.

Eliminate your debt

You really can’t start growing money until your debt is paid off—sorry. You’re losing money while paying those interest rates, which is a terrible hit to your finances. There are several ways you can start working towards a debt-free existence. If you have debt, this should be your top priority.

Invest in a Roth IRA

In addition to investing in your company’s retirement plan, invest in your own through a Roth IRA. You can currently contribute up to $6,000 a year to a Roth IRA. But if you don’t have that, put in whatever you can. The power of compounding interest is astounding. Remember that every year your contributions earn interest, the balance increases, and so the interest you’re accruing grows, too. To give an example, if you start contributing $3,000 a year at age 30, you can retire by age 67 with 615K. But if you contribute $5,000 a year starting at age 30, you can retire at age 67 with 880K. That’s just the power of compounding interest. It’s just two grand more a year, but it results in 265 grand more at the end.

Get a great points card and pay it off

If you can be responsible with a credit card, search around for one that gives you points on regular purchases like gas and groceries. You’re going to buy those things anyways, so why not earn a buck or two for every $100 you spend? It can easily result in a free $500 or $600 at the end of the year. Just make sure to pay the card in full each month.

In fact, play the credit card game well

If you can be very responsible with credit cards and qualify for some good ones, you can make money off of them. Again, you must always pay them in full each month, or else you start paying them interest, rather than reaping rewards. But you can have one cashback card for regular purchases like groceries, one travel card that gives you twice the points on airline tickets and hotels, and perhaps another that offers zero APR for the first few years. With that last one, you can hold onto the money you owe them until that interest rate kicks in, and in the meantime, you can use it to invest elsewhere and make money on it. Just make sure you’ll get it back before that APR kicks in.

Set up an auto transfer to a savings account

We often look at our checking account, and based on that amount, figure out what our budget is for the month. So, if that amount were automatically a little lower, we’d adjust our budget. That can be the case if you set up an automatic transfer from your checking into a savings account each month. Again, you won’t feel the pain of that. It will just happen. Then you’ll adjust your budget to what’s in your checking account.

Critically assess your spending

Have you sat down and looked at your spending? I mean really looked at it? You probably spend a couple hundred more than you thought on things like dining, entertaining, and Lyft/Uber rides. Just being conscious of those figures, and setting new budget goals in your head, will have you think twice before ordering delivery when you have food in your fridge or taking an Uber when it’s just a 15-minute walk.

Don’t ignore every financial offer

Don’t throw out every financial offer that comes in the mail. If you are a financially responsible individual, you can benefit from some of these. They’re only “scams” for those who can’t pay their bills on time. But, if a bank offers you $500 free just for opening an account with a minimum balance of, say, $5,000, and you have that just sitting in another account doing nothing for you, go for it. That’s a ten percent return, instantly. Just make sure you can maintain that $5,000 balance in the new account or you may be subject to fees.

Start a side hustle

If you have the time, start a little side hustle. Maybe it’s driving Lyft. Maybe it’s teaching lessons in a subject matter on which you’re an expert. Even if it’s just for a couple hours a week, if you strictly put away that income, then you’ll have more to invest eventually.